Becoming a new mom is a wild ride. You carry a human in your belly for 9 months and then suddenly they join you on the outside world. Your whole identity has shifted and this new identity of “mother” is born. People are great at giving advice, even if you do not ask. Often times you will hear conflicting advice too. Now that I have become a mother 4 times. I’ll share the unsolicited advice, I would give my former self.
Breathe In Every Moment of Being a Mama
Breathe it all in mama. Having a newborn baby under your care is very exciting, but can be very exhausting. Living in such a fast paced, instant gratification world does not make that any easier. Take time to breathe it in. Your dishes being done are important, but not so important that you have rush breastfeeding and not enjoy snuggling up with your baby.
The middle of the night feeding is so exhausting, but it is inevitable and if you are going to wake up every night for it, might as well enjoy the sweet way your baby caresses your face. Take notice of the little way his lips purse up while he is eating.
Unfortunately our culture devalues children and paints caring for them, as a miserable chore. Our children make life way more enjoyable. So cherish every moment. When you feel the world’s view of children sneaking in, quickly find a way to turn it into enjoying this moment of caring for your child.
New Mom, New Body
No one cares if you bounce back. One more time in all caps, NO ONE CARES IF YOU BOUNCE BACK. If you do happen to bounce back (which is not the goal) people might make comments to you about how you look amazing and that might feel good temporarily. But having a rockin’ bod is far from the most important thing after having a baby. It is probably the LEAST important.
Especially if you nurse your little one, your body might hold on to a little bit of fat to ensure your body can provide milk for your babe. (I personally prefer food for my baby over a hot bod). I have found once I am mostly done nursing through the night I drop around 5-8 lbs. Everyone’s body is different, but this is common.
Your new body is beautiful. Instead of something to look at, it is something to be used. Not in a negative way. In a necessary way. You are needed, cherished, and provide irreplaceable value to this small little human.
Your arms bring comfort, your squishy tummy is the perfect spot to rest on, your fuller and more uneven breasts provide sustenance. Your body is everything your child needs to thrive. What a beautiful blessing to have your body worn for the sake of your little one.
You are the Mom, You Make the Decision
As a new mom you can get thrown all kinds of information you don’t want taking up space in your head. There is a comment for almost every choice we make as mothers. Use your intuition mama. If it does not feel right to you, you can say no.
Do not shame yourself into making a decision you don’t believe in because everyone else you know made that decision. That’s called peer pressure and even though you are no longer in middle school it needs no place in your life as a mom. You can always change your mind. You might even decide later that the decision you made was not the best. Believe it or not you will not make the perfect choice every time as a mom…crazy right?
You might hear:
“This is how you HAVE to sleep your baby.”
“Cosleeping is the only way to go.”
“Don’t feed your baby that.”
“You need to feed your baby this.”
“This gadget is a must have.”
“My baby hated that gadget.”
“Pacis are NECESSARY for safe sleep.”
“Don’t use pacis they mess up your child’s latch and cause dental issues.”
Just to name a few.
We are constantly bombarded with new rules on how to care for OUR child. Advice can be very helpful especially when asked for. However, you might get conflicting information. Wade through the information knowing your baby will likely be okay no matter what you decide to do. Go with your gut mama.
So many times as a new mom I ignored my gut and went with what my friends told me. Now as a more seasoned mama I am a completely different mom. Had I followed my intuition sooner I would have been closer to the mom I am today from the beginning.
When making big decisions you can ask yourself these questions:
What do I feel is my best option?
Will I feel remorse if I change my mind?
Can I choose differently relatively easily?
These questions can provide you with an idea of how important something is to you. Everything has a cost and benefit so it is up to you to decide if the benefit outweighs the cost.
Other than that your spouse’s (or child’s other parent) opinion on raising your baby is the only one that matters. You can respectfully choose differently than what someone else suggests you do with your child, after all it is a suggestion.
Sometimes you come across friends or family who are adamant about your kid doing what they think is best. They might guilt trip you. Set firm boundaries with those people. If they cannot respect your wishes for your child you need to address that. Do not apologize for choosing what you think is best for your babe, that is what a good mother does.
Hard is Not the Same as Bad
When you become a mother you will inevitably face hardships, some real and some puffed up in your head to be much bigger than necessary. Don’t take it from me, take it from Abbie aka M is for Mama a mother of 10 with 2 sets of twins included, “Hard is not the same thing as bad,” is her life motto. And wether you have 1 or 10+ children, it is a good one to have.
Life gets exponentially harder when you add a child in. The truth is you have way more responsibility. But responsibility is not the enemy, in fact having more responsibility is what makes life even more fulfilling.
What To Do When It Does Get Hard
When we feel like we have way too many things (or humans) to take care of it is a gentle reminder that we need to take stock of what is important. Honestly evaluating what is worth keeping and what is worth letting go of is necessary for survival.
Maybe it is time to let go of binge watching Netflix or time to get creative with how you decompress. Time to revisit how you do house chores or what meals look like.
Good news is virtually every hard thing you face as a new mom is temporary. Waking to feed the baby in the middle of the night might seem to go on for ever, but it does come to an end. Your power struggles with an independent toddler will subside (no promises that it will completely go away). Your middle schooler will learn to do her chores joyfully. Every age will have its challenges, but they are ever changing. Instead of calling everything bad and blaming “terrible twos” or what have you, it’s an opportunity to find ways to grow into a better parent, learn new tricks. After all we are the adults.
You Will Never Be the Best
You will never ever be the best mom in every area of your “mom life”. In fact you might not be the best in any area of your mom life. Let that be a weight lifted, you do not have to carry the burden of being perfect, cause you aren’t.
There is always going to be room to improve as a mother. There are never ending opportunities to become a better mother.
Sometimes watching other mothers we admire we will want to copy them. “Soandso” is so good at doing crafts with her kids. Don’t fool yourself, before you end up with glue and glitter all over your floor, decide if you truly want to do arts and crafts. Maybe you have the perfect idea to incorporate a craft into your homeschool lesson, great! But if you are doing arts and crafts purely because you want to be like “Soandso” check your intentions. Our kids do not get benefit when we are working so hard for the sake of being like another mom. They benefit when we work hard to for the sake of them.
It’s okay to be different and the way you love and care for your children should be a reflection of who you and your child are, not some idea of what a perfect mom looks like. Your child is unique and so are you so hone in on your natural gifts, hobbies, & desires to continue to be the best version of mom you can be.
What would you tell yourself if you went back in time?
If you are dealing with anxiety as a new mama be sure to check out my tips for combating anxiety as a new mom here.
Whatever season you are in, you are not alone. And if you are feeling alone please be sure to reach out. You can find me on instagram or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org